Mother! (2017) Review

Mother! (2017)

Directed & Written by Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a young woman whose tranquil life with her husband at their country home is disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious couple.

My Opinion:

Okay, I wasn’t going to go to this since I can’t say I’ve ever exactly loved a Darren Aronofsky movie. But I do like some f*^ked up shit and this looked like it was probably some f*^ked up shit, so… I went after a crappy day at work to “unwind”. So relaxing. 😉 Mainly, I’m annoyed that I paid full price. This is why I only go on cheap day or to a non-chain cheap cinema! One ticket & small nachos? Just under £15. Seriously?! F*^k off! Anyway – I didn’t hate this but should’ve waited for Netflix.

I’m curious where I’d rank this against all the Aronofsky films I’ve seen. Okay – I’m gonna do it! “Favorite” to least favorite (although I love none of them):

The Wrestler
Black Swan
Requiem For A Dream
Mother!
Pi

Well, I guess Mother! is pretty low (and I must admit I remember zero of Pi now other than the ending). I know Aronofsky likes his allegories & his symbolism and all that stuff that people either love or call pretentious bullshit. I think the most annoying thing about Mother! is that it’s just far too blatant this time.

I honestly don’t know what to write about this one. I think it may shock some people but, hey – it’s an Aronofsky film. He still doesn’t come anywhere near David Cronenberg when it comes to f*^ked up shit (I love Cronenberg’s older films). I do kind of love it when people who aren’t full-on movie geeks (like us weirdo bloggers) do zero research into what a movie is about & end up going to something like THIS knowing nothing other than that they like the stars in it or the look of the poster or whatever. I’d love to see their reactions to this one! Mother! is the kind of film you’d recommend to a mainstream movie lover who you hate just to piss them off and make them think you may be a complete psycho for recommending it, therefore hopefully resulting in them never talking to you again. Hmm. I like that description. That should be on the movie’s poster.

For me, I actually didn’t hate Mother! I thought the first half of the movie was pretty good. I liked its atmosphere & the way the floorboards creaked and how this lovely old house felt alive (as it’s meant to feel). It was like a rather straightforward haunted house thriller to begin with. But, of course, it’s an Aronofsky film so it’s nothing of the sort. Lawrence’s slow descent into madness was done well and I do think she’s a very good actress despite the fact that people seem to be growing to dislike her in real life. You really can’t fault her performance here, although Portman did it better in Black Swan (but Portman also had a much better script to work with). Her hair was awesome, too. Although I assume it was a wig? It was super long. I want pretty braids like that. As for Javier Bardem, Ed Harris & Michelle Pfeiffer? A bit weak, to be honest. Well, Pfeiffer was okay (was glad she was in this – I’m a fan). Again, though, I think that’s more the fault of the material they had to work with.

My biggest problem with the film was the f*^ked up shit I was so looking forward to and which took ages to finally happen. The f*^ked up shit is what I was waiting for! It’s like the movie Society – I kind of love it but it’s an AWFUL film. It’s just that last half hour or so that I love. Now that’s some f*^ked up shit! In Mother!, however, I ended up more bored than shocked at the end. And, let’s face it – we all know it’s an allegory so it’s not like these things are actually happening to these characters. Well, it’s actually happening in real life to what Lawrence’s character represents. But… Yeah. I dunno. Maybe Aronofsky thinks he might save the planet with the movie’s message but I think we’re doomed anyway so maybe we are all better off watching fun, mainstream blockbusters with no “hidden” message?!

I’d like this movie more if the crazy ass shit at the end hadn’t gone on and on and on and on. And on. And on. And on. And on. It wasn’t the content itself that bothered me, it was that it felt like that final act would never end. I got out of the movie & wondered if I’d been sat there for three hours and was annoyed I hadn’t checked the length beforehand (it’s only 121 minutes). I’m also still annoyed that I paid full price for this movie and that the cheese that came with the nachos was disgusting.

My Rating: 6/10

Oh! I forgot to add that, as far as pretentious shit goes, at least this movie was better than The Neon Demon. I hated that with a passion. Mother! was just… Meh. Which isn’t what I expected. Also, Clint Mansell didn’t do the score for this Aronofsky film. What a shame – it may have helped. His Requiem For A Dream score is a damn masterpiece. Let’s have a listen…

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The Truman Show (1998) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from David of That Moment In. Thanks for the review, David! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Truman Show, IMDB rank 215 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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Director: Peter Weir
Writer: Andrew Niccol

Stars: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney

These days, in most cities and towns, avoiding being filmed is next to impossible. We are so used to it now, that we rarely give it a second thought. CCTV cameras line every street, shop and restaurant recording us from every angle. We could probably make a movie about our lives just by going outside. For Truman Burbank though, someone already is.

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Chosen before he was even born, Truman (Jim Carrey) was selected as the first 24-hour-a-day star of a TV reality show, creatively named The Truman Show. The brainchild of eccentric film maker Christof (Ed Harris), the show is an international phenomenon and been on the air for 30 years, documenting every aspect of the man’s life. And what life he’s had. Or rather not had. Christof has carefully orchestrated the world Truman has been living in, guiding the young impressionable mind as a child to remain content with his neighborhood and fearful of the world beyond. That included “killing” his father in a boating accident, an incident so traumatic, Truman can’t go near the water. This is just one of many tricks employed against Truman to keep him where he is.

There are other things that stand out for us, but less so for a man who’s grown up in a sanitized, near perfectly planned environment, which is the greatest set in television history. Everyone in Seahaven (the community Truman lives in) is an actor and they are all in on the con. Truman is married to the wholesome Meryl (Laura Linney), who is eternally chirpy and always within reach of a product to suggest they try, making sure the label and name are clearly visible for the watching audience. This is one of the film’s major conceits, that Truman is the spectacle but we are the consumers.

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Like anyone, things nag at us, and for Truman it is the same. But lately, things have become increasingly curious. A large studio light falls from the sky and crashes on the road in front of Truman. It’s quickly covered up by a radio broadcast talking about an aircraft in trouble, which also help maintain the fear of flying already implanted in his mind (Travel agencies feature posters of airplanes being struck by massive bolts of lightning, claiming THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!). But not long after, while driving into work, the radio catches static and Truman hears the show’s crew tracking Truman’s movements as he approaches. Suspicious. But most troublesome for Truman is Lauren. Lauren, played by Sylvia in the film’s story and by Natascha McElhone in real life, is the love that he was denied. An extra on set, Lauren was never meant to be a regular. From the start, Meryl was cast as the love interest, but this is the thing about love, right? It doesn’t come from casting. It comes naturally, and Lauren overwhelms Truman. Sylvia, though is not happy about Truman’s life and is a member of the “Free Truman” movement which aims to stop the show and the cruelty of the lie. Christof has her removed from the set, forcing her and her “father” to tell Truman her family is moving to Fiji. Truman marries Meryl and life goes on, but secretly, he can’t stop thinking of his one true love. In one of the more revealing moments of the film, we watch as he hides away in the basement thumbing through magazines with pictures of women, cutting out a mouth here, some eyes there and so on. It seems arbitrary at first, and maybe even deviant for a short time until we see that Truman is actually trying to remember Lauren’s face, and is building her piece by piece with the parts of other women. It’s heartbreaking.

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This is the path Truman must take. He must discover his situation and then find a way to be free of it. Without that, the story has no meaning. But what’s impressive about this narrative is the way it makes the viewer consider the world beyond the one in the movie. What does it mean to be a star? Not long ago, it took a lot to be famous. Actors, musicians, politicians and criminals; these were the rare persons that found fame, for good or bad. These days, with reality TV, YouTube, the Internet and social networking, going “viral” and more can make anyone famous. Director Weir is keenly aware of this, and the enormous dome that houses Seahaven and Truman could easily be the metaphor of the fish bowl we all live in.

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That’s the thing about The Truman Show. It raises questions. But the film is a comedy at heart and has its objective to reach, so does not go to places that would make this a truly defining film. Take Meryl, for instance, as the girlfriend first and eventually the wife. How far does she, as a hired actress, go to play the part? Do she and Truman have sex? If so, is it broadcast? How private is Truman’s life? How much will a television audience want to see? Exploring these and more would have taken The Truman Show in a different direction, naturally, but since they are never addressed, it seems like a lost opportunity, and kind of a cheat.

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That is not to say the movie lacks depth, because that would be a mistake. Both Christof and Truman are exceptionally rich characters and Ed Harris and Jim Carrey are astounding in their roles. Christof in not a cold person, but the show is a product and the ratings are the heart. Without Truman, his world collapses, an empire he’s built for thirty years. Likewise, Truman is a child, no matter his age. His experiences are real to him, but they are aseptic, manufactured, free of conflict. There is a palpable father/son relationship in their design, but more like a god and that god’s subject just beginning to question its existence.

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Weir’s bigger message may be directed at the viewer, and one perhaps lost in the art of the film’s presentation. How closely do we really know our own world? How much do we take for granted? Life is a continuous stream of peripheral activity that goes invariably unchecked. How much of it should we question? Truman starts to see oddities, and because he doesn’t know anything but what he’s been presented, his questions are weak and with no frame of reference. Imagine that it began to rain only on you and nobody else. What do you think it could mean? A miracle perhaps? This is a dilemma Truman must face.

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And this is really all about him. Truman is a wonderful character. He’s honest, sensitive, inquisitive, and because we know his situation, he’s also sympathetic. We want to see him win. There is tremendous joy in watching his discovery. Throughout the movie, we see the audience of the show and given a glimpse into how Truman has impacted many personally. Some wear buttons and have posters that read, “How’s it going end?” We may think we get an answer to that question, when the time comes, but in truth, that answer is not so clear. Where is Truman now?

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A Beautiful Mind (2001) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from John of 501 Must See Movies Project . He also reviewed Amadeus HERE and Platoon HERE. Thanks for the reviews, John! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on A Beautiful Mind, IMDB rank 198 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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“Imagine if you suddenly learned that the people, the places, the moments most important to you were not gone, not dead, but worse, had never been.”

A Beautiful Mind explores the life of John Nash (Crowe), Nobel Prize winning mathematician.  Beginning with his graduate studies at Princeton, Nash discovers a new concept of governing dynamics, the Nash Equilibrium.  Following Princeton, Nash works at a research lab at MIT doing work for the Pentagon and teaching on the side.  He meets Alicia (Connelly), one of his students, and the two fall in love.  He is also approached by William Parcher (Harris) to do classified work in decoding a Soviet attack on America.

However, not everything is as it appears.

Based on the book of the same name by Sylvia Nasar, A Beautiful Mind is a film that balances a number of movie genres.  It’s got drama,mystery, romance, a little bit of comedy.  The various elements of the film make it insightful, suspenseful, and entertaining on a number of levels.

From a visual perspective, a lot goes on in A Beautiful Mind.  Some of the film’s early scenes, specifically at Princeton, have an older look to them.  I like when a director can add little elements like that.  It helps in contrasting the different time periods throughout the film.  They also do good with showing Nash’s perspective as he sees the various connections and patterns in the math.

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Though some of the character’s mannerisms were annoying to me, Russell Crowe does a great job of bringing John Nash to life.  I’m probably nitpicking more than anything else.  He does well with portraying the paranoid genius who was given “two helping of brain but only a half a helping of heart.”  The real life John Nash visited the set, and Crowe notices some of his tendencies, hand movements, and things of the sort, and incorporated them into his performance.

A Beautiful Mind was filmed almost entirely chronologically, and I think that helped Crowe’s performance as he became Nash and progressed naturally through the various stages of life portrayed in the film.

Jennifer Connelly, wow, what a performance is all I can say.  Even though she doesn’t command every scene she’s in, she gives a strong performance and more than holds her own.  From the beginning of their love story through the pain and anguish later on, her portrayal of Alicia Nash is believable and genuine.  As I’ve looked at some of the other people considered for her role and Crowe’s, I know Ron Howard made the right call with those two.

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Paul Bettany is an interesting character to say the least.  Having portrayed Geoffrey Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale, an entertaining role, Bettany demonstrated his ability to be a sort of classical funnyman in A Beautiful Mind.  Though a lot of his performance has the comedic undertone, he has nuggets of truth and deep insight throughout the film.  Ed Harris also gives a decent performance.  He excels in the serious no-nonsense roles like Parcher.  I don’t know if I would call him a typecast character, but his most memorable performances are ones like this one.

This is a film I’d recommend seeing twice before forming an opinion about it.  I saw this one twice in the theaters: the first time I hated it, the second time I loved it.  Knowing the major plot twist gives perspective and a different understanding to the first half of the film.   Akiva Goldsman, Ron Howard, and Brian Grazer created the world through Nash’s perspective, so the audience experiences the major twist at the same time Nash does.  I remember being very confused the first time I saw it, hence not liking it.

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“I need to believe, that something extraordinary is possible.”

It’s been probably about a decade since I’ve watched A Beautiful Mind.  Having a chance to re-visit it for me was enjoyable and a reminder of how great A Beautiful Mind is.  Russell Crowe brings John Nash’s story to life, has great on-screen chemistry with Ed Harris, Paul Bettany, and most importantly Jennifer Connelly.  Ron Howard has created a great film, one certainly deserving of the Best Picture Oscar.  See this one twice if you haven’t seen it yet.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Man On A Ledge (2012) Review

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Man On A Ledge (2012)

Directed by Asger Leth

Starring:
Sam Worthington
Elizabeth Banks
Jamie Bell
Anthony Mackie
Génesis Rodríguez
Ed Harris

Running time: 102 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Ex-con Nick (Sam Worthington) crawls onto the ledge of a tall building & threatens to jump. Police psychologist Lydia (Elizabeth Banks) tries to talk Nick down. But we soon learn that there’s much more to Nick’s story and blah blah blah there’s a diamond heist going on and this plot sounded quite promising but the movie is just BLAH.

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My Opinion:

This movie sounded like it would be a bit of popcorn munching, “turn off your brain for 102 minutes” fun. Well, the “turn off your brain” bit was certainly accurate. Don’t expect some deep & meaningful plot here. Not that every movie has to have that but there just wasn’t enough “fun” in this movie to really make up for the shallow plot.

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Sam Worthington. Meh. I still never recognize this guy whenever he’s in a movie. I’m always like “Who’s that guy again? Oh, Avatar dude”. And he has weird hair in this. Elizabeth Banks. Hmm. I kind of really like Elizabeth Banks as a person. I don’t know why. She kind of reminds me of me in some weird way so I’ve always been able to identify with her – she seems like a fun person (not that I’m a fun person. I’m boring as hell). She was fine in this but I just really don’t see her as a “police psychologist”. At all. Jamie Bell as Nick’s brother. Meh. Didn’t like his character. But hated the character of his girlfriend the most. Annoying as hell. Ed Harris as… Ed Harris, phoning in the “generic bad guy” role.

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Bloody hell – I’m currently looking through the cast on IMDB & people like Edward Burns, Kyra Sedgwick, The Man in Black from Lost, and other actors I’ve heard of were in this but I can’t for the life of me even remember them in this forgettable movie. Oh, and William Sadler – I do remember him in this. Love him. “Alexandre Dumbass!” “Best two out of three!” (I love anyone who knows what I’m on about with those quotes).

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Enough about the actors – Let’s move onto the plot. Er… You know what? Screw it. The plot is stupid. The idea was a good one but they could have done so much more with it. Just too silly & unbelievable with not enough fun or action to make up for it. Certainly not the worst movie ever but also not very good. These are the hardest movies to review. Just… Meh. Wasted opportunity.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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Gravity (2013) Review

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Gravity (2013)

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón

Starring:
Sandra Bullock
George Clooney
Ed Harris
Orto Ignatiussen
Paul Sharma
Amy Warren
Basher Savage

Running time: 90 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Two astronauts fight for survival and a way to get back home after an accident leaves them adrift in space and without communications with Earth.

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My Opinion:

Gravity has been out for ages everywhere other than the UK, it seems, so there have already been plenty of reviews telling us all how great the film is. Now that all the hype has died down a bit, I’ll try to review this as best I can and decide if it’s worth all the praise it has received.

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First of all, I’ve said it plenty before but I better say it again: I know nothing about filmmaking. All I know is when something looks good or looks bad. Gravity is beautiful to look at. I saw it in IMAX 3D as the recommendation seemed to be to see it this way if at all possible. It was worth the extra cost – And this is from someone who does NOT like 3D. When there’s the option, I rarely choose to see a film in 3D. It looks blurry to me and I usually just find it too distracting. Gravity was the kind of 3D I like – I forgot I was even watching a 3D film most of the time. It was subtle & not “in your face” (I don’t want things jumping out of the screen at me). So the film looks great and I’d recommend seeing it in 3D if you can, although I’d be interested in seeing the 2D version now as well.

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To my hubby’s annoyance, I kept saying “this better be better than Avatar!”. I did fear that, because the film was meant to look lovely, that it would have no substance otherwise and wouldn’t be a very interesting story. I didn’t really enjoy Avatar as a film so I didn’t care that it “looked nice”. Luckily, this wasn’t the case with Gravity.

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I know nothing about space travel or science so can’t say if all of that was accurate but who cares? If you’re one of those types who can never suspend disbelief and just enjoy a movie, this MAY not be the film for you. I don’t know. It’s just a movie and it’s meant to entertain us. Clooney’s & especially Bullock’s backstories are… well, I don’t want to use the word “contrived” because that’s not really fair as it’s a very good film. What stories in films AREN’T? What matters is if you buy into the characters & their stories and I definitely did in Gravity. Both Clooney & Bullock give great performances and I very much felt for Bullock’s present (and past) situation. Her story worked and the backstory, to me, felt necessary to have a better understanding of her character. But as the film has so little dialogue, it was nice that we were only given as much information as we needed about the characters in order to know them. It’s impressive that Clooney & Bullock were able to make us care so much about their characters – top notch acting on their parts. This is what “makes” a film for me – not impressive CGI or 3D stuff (although it’s nice when these things work as well).

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As for the “action”, this film was much more exciting than I’d been expecting. We’d all heard about how there are so few people in it & not much dialogue so I wasn’t expecting a ton of action even though it’s obviously about an accident that occurs while these people are in space. Gravity is very exciting! Heart-pounding action at times and the great kind where you feel like you’re almost a part of it and are experiencing it with the characters instead of just watching them on a (very big in my case) screen. I suppose this may lose a little something for those who decide to watch this on their TV for the first time. I’d be interested to see this at home when it’s out on DVD & see if it has the same effect on me. I’ll still enjoy the story but I wonder if you’ll be able to “lose” yourself in the film in the same way. So, yeah – try to watch this one in the cinema (or theater if you’re American).

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Is this film for everyone? No. This is why I’m enjoying this blogging thing – I know you’re all true film lovers (it takes commitment to run a movie blog!). Will the 22-year-old I work with who loves Michael Bay movies & only ever watches illegal bootlegs because the cinema “costs too much” like Gravity? Extremely unlikely. I’m already trying to prepare myself for the day he comes in & says something along the lines of “I watched Gravity. I didn’t like it. I was bored”. It will happen. Gravity wasn’t made for him. It was made for “us” – all us lovely movie blogger types who are maybe a little misunderstood at times because we really REALLY like movies and perhaps talk about them a bit too much when in the presence of those who don’t quite understand our fascination. Gravity is the kind of movie we wait for. We wait for movies like this while we sit through endless sequels and remakes because it’s all that’s usually on offer and because we forever live in the hope that one of them may actually be good. We suffer through these mediocre films because we’re sometimes given a pleasant surprise when one of them ends up being okay. And we sit through them because we know that sometimes, just sometimes, we’re rewarded with something like Gravity.

My Rating: 9/10

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Where does it rank?:

Movies I’ve Seen In 2013